Nicotine free cigarettes seem like they could be the ultimate compromise when you want to smoke. Because they don’t contain nicotine, they don’t have the same physically addictive component of regular tobacco. However, when you look beneath the surface, it turns out that nicotine free cigarettes may not be all they’re cracked up to be.
What They Are
Nicotine free cigarettes are not the same thing as electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes). There is a type of nicotine free cigarette that is a plastic cylinder shaped like a cigarette and contains herbal aroma oil; these are popular in Europe. Nicotine free cigarettes contain herbs instead of tobacco and are sometimes called herbal cigarettes. Some of the herbs that are used in herbal cigarettes include the following:
- Passion flower
- Rose petals
- Lotus leaf
- Licorice root
- Corn silk
- Red clover flowers
Uses of Nicotine Free Cigarettes
Nicotine free cigarettes can be used as an aid in quitting smoking because they offer a replacement for the psychological aspect of smoking. The plastic cylinder type of inhalers popular in Europe have been studied and had a 66 percent quit rate in smokers who were most heavily dependent on the habit of smoking.
Actors appearing in movies and television series which require their characters to smoke often use nicotine free cigarettes instead of traditional tobacco cigarettes.
What about Clove Cigarettes?
Clove cigarettes are also sometimes called kreteks. Clove cigarettes do still contain tobacco, along with ground cloves and clove oil. Some people mistakenly think that clove cigarettes are safer because they don’t contain as many toxic chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes. However, because the clove cigarettes do still contain tobacco, they do also contain nicotine. They also contain other health risks including more carbon monoxide and tar than traditional cigarettes, and are associated with as much as 20 times greater risk of lung cancer compared to non-smokers. The clove oil contained in this type of cigarette is also associated with a much greater risk of pulmonary edema. Clove cigarettes should not be considered safe.
Risks of Nicotine Free Cigarettes
Nicotine free cigarettes are not safer than traditional cigarettes. Any kind of cigarette you can smoke, whether it’s made from tobacco or other herbs, still contains tar and carbon monoxide. These chemical components in smoking that lead to lung problems and cancers including lung, esophageal and mouth cancers. Some herbal cigarettes, like imported bidis flavored like cherry or vanilla, must be puffed more often so that they will stay lit, which ultimately brings more smoke into the lungs where damage can occur.
Like tobacco based cigarettes, herbal cigarettes also increase the risk of heart disease due to the tar they contain. The carbon monoxide you inhale from smoking any cigarette can also cause brain damage, asphyxiation and breathing problems.
In addition, some people can have allergies to the herbs used in herbal cigarettes. These allergic reactions can be severe and may occur either immediately or after repeated use.
Nicotine free cigarettes look just like regular cigarettes, and with the exception of the cylinder inhaler type, most nicotine free cigarettes are just as dangerous as tobacco. Because nicotine free cigarettes are unfiltered, they can be even more dangerous than traditional cigarettes.